Portsmouth students study solar power

Portsmouth students study solar power

Jeffrey Flath of eNow demonstrates a solar-powered truck to students at the high school Friday.

Jeffrey Flath of eNow demonstrates a solar-powered truck to students at the high school Friday.
Jeffrey Flath of eNow demonstrates a solar-powered truck to students at the high school Friday.
PORTSMOUTH —  Perhaps the town should have looked to the sun instead of the wind for a source of energy, a representative from a new renewable energy company told high school students Friday.

Speaking to students inside a solar-powered truck parked just a short walk away from the town’s broken wind turbine, Jeffrey Flath said turbines have a fatal design flaw.

“The reason it’s not working is because it has some moving parts that broke,” said Mr. Flath, president and CEO of eNow (Energy Solutions for Transportation). “This has no moving parts. The difference between solar and wind is once you install it,

all you need is sunlight. You don’t need wind, you don’t have bearings, you don’t have shafts or other things when you’re converting that energy into electricity.”

The Warwick-based company describes itself as a clean technology company that uses flexible, solar photovoltaic cell technologies to help the transportation industry realize environmental, economic and regulatory benefits.

“On top (of this truck) are solar panels and the goal is to put them on top of tractor trailor trucks, buses, fire trucks, police cars — anything that idles for a long time,” said Jean-Paul Arsenault, a science teacher at PHS “It’s collecting enough solar power to power up batteries. So a big tractor trailer trucks pulls into the station where they would normally leave the thing idling all night, and they can shut it down. They can run all the equipment that the need on the power created by the solar panels.”

Mr. Flath said his company worked with the Maine Department of Transportation, which was in the habit of idling its trucks to provide power for emergency lights during construction work.

We put this system on one of their vehicles and it approved mileage by 47 percent. We saved them per truck about $3,200 a year, just from the standpoint of not having to idle the engines anymore,” he said.

The solar panels eNow manufactures are much smaller and energy efficient than the typical glass variety that weigh anywhere from 2.5 to 4.5 pounds per square foot, Mr. Flath said. “We’ve designed this specifically for transportation applications and it weighs less than a pound per square foot and it’s a quarter of an inch thick. These are what are actually on the top of this truck,” he said.

The vehicle can run at nighttime because solar energy is stored in its batteries and used when needed. “Right now we’re producing 50 amps of power. We can still run what we have here for the next 26 hours,” said Mr. Flath, adding that air conditioning, refrigeration and other applications that usually run off an engine are completely separated and powered by the sun

Depending on what you turn off, the truck can go even further. “We can basically run this in this position and never run out of power,” he said.

Jackie Katz, assistant school librarian at PHS, arranged for the presentation Friday.

“I know her husband and I was putting on a demonstration for them and they said, ‘What about coming to Portsmouth High School?'” said Mr. Flath.

Mr. Arsenault said his urban ecology class was the main benefactor of the presentation, which started with a PowerPoint before a tour of the eNow truck parked outside the school.

“This fits right in because we take a look at everything from global warming, population health and renewable energy — all that stuff. We also have a couple of biology classes here because they did NECAPs all day,” he said.

For more information about eNow, visit www.enowenergy.com.